Pandemic Pandemic #367

Starting Thursday with Maritime Sunburst Lichen because the day has actually started with rain.

Yesterday evening though was graced with a lovely sunset and an increase in water temperature of 1 degree. We were giddy with the tropicality of our evening swim. Five months of winter swimming in the same location might seem a little dull and I suppose excitement at a tiny improvement in water temperature only enhances the dullness quota. Tranquility Bay is the lovely name of our swimming destination but it doesnt really describe the swimming conditions. Tranquility Bay is a beach on Devils Point opposite Drakes Island. Darwin set off on what was to be the voyage that inspired and informed his later work ‘A Theory of Evolution’ from Barn Pool a bay opposite both Devils Point and Drakes Island.

Drakes Island

The origin of the name Devils Point is uncertain but 7 currents converge nearby making this area of water dangerous to navigate.

Tranquility Bay is a little way from the convergence point of these currents but they still play a vital part in our regular swims.

When we arrive for our dip all bundled up in warm clothing we lean over the sea wall to assess the days swim. If any of us were beardy men there would be a lot of beard tugging as we sagely consider the quality and safety of our swim. In truth we never really know until we get in. Appearances are deceptive and knowing the tide times, wind direction and weather are helpful but cannot predict what is going on under the surface. Sometimes the most unappealing looking days turn out to be a delightful swim and the reverse can so easily be true.

All this is, I suppose, a long preamble to a description of my curious feeling during last nights swim. It was at sunset and the water temperature was 9.6 degrees so everything was pretty chilly. I was doing my usual paddle across the width of the bay. I was swimming towards the sunset and I had a strange sense of being somewhere else. The whole swim felt like the last swim of a much enjoyed holiday, just as it is on holiday, it was hard to get out of the water and break the magic of the moment.

I took this shot the moment I got out. Had this been a holiday I might be enjoying this view with a good coffee and a plate of seafood having barely bothered to dress

The reality in March in Plymouth was somewhat different. A flask of Horlicks and a square of chocolate while squeezing cold damp skin into warm layers of clothes. None of them quite layering correctly on imperfectly dried skin.

A good way to end a day though.

Pandemic Pondering #307

Mornings can be strange when winter sea swimming is a regular habit. The times we swim are predicated by tide times and anticipated weather. The weather is the least important. It has become entirely normal to wake up, look out at frosty cars and know that all we actually need to put on for breakfast is a pair of swimming knickers and a wetsuit. The contrast is even madder when we realise that only twelve hours before we had felt cold dressed in several layers of thermal underwear and winter clothing to walk the dogs at the same location.

Sea swimming is a massive, positive, side effect of the pandemic. We have formed an informal group of swimmers and watchers so that anyone who wants a swim can find a swim buddy on our Whatsapp group. Everyone in the group knew someone but before winter swimming most of us did not know each other. We have never seen each other with our clothes on!

Equipment is the thing, in the balmy days of October we rocked up in normal clothes and congratulated ourselves on this wonderful free hobby that we had discovered. Incrementally winter started biting at our resolve to ‘keep things simple’. Birthdays and Christmas came and went and with it the gifts of accessories for our new hobby. One person gets something new and others fancy getting the same. Recently this took us to a strange place. Researching Sinx gloves on line is not for the faint hearted. Coupled with the phenomenon of jabbering like crazy beasts when the endorphins hit, our post swimming ‘ bobbing’ chats are far reaching and without the usual social restraints that you might expect in a group of people who don’t know one another well. Over-sharing might be the correct term. To onlookers it probably sounds like the random squeals and hoots of a seal colony. Social distancing doesn’t help matters but I think we would be loud even in a close knit huddle.

©Andy Cole

Pandemonium in a Pandemic might be the word.

Pandemic Pondering #283

Christmas 2020 it wasn’t Christmas but it was Christmas because that’s what it was.

The day started early with some ‘Bobbing’ admin.

Tranquility Bay

Mulled cider and mince pies were the actual admin that was required today.

Then it was a swift drive home and festive sandwiches made ready for beach #2 Harlyn Bay.

Harlyn Bay

Don’t be fooled by golden sands, if Tranquility Bay looked like madness, Harlyn was madness+. A great walk in freezing temperatures followed by a convivial two van picnic observing all current regulations for Covid-19 control.

The dogs, of course, moved vans due to the superior picnic being served next door.

To be honest the idea of returning home and then cooking a traditional turkey roast began to feel less desirable the colder we got. A cup of hot tea was about as far as we could stretch when we got home.

Much later a mushroom Wellington made an appearance.

In between walking and talking we zoomed and whatsapped with people near and far.

Christmas Day in a Nutshell with not a cracker in sight.

Our last day with the relative freedoms of Tier 1. Today Cornwall is downgraded , that’s a whole new set of rules to remember! In